SAN DIEGO (CN) – Expletive-filled group text messages between teammates of Chief Special Warfare Officer Edward R. Gallagher were revealed in court Friday, including one in which a SEAL unhappy with the war crimes court martial proceedings threatened to burn the courthouse to the ground.
“You’re not a big fan of this legal process are you?” Gallagher’s attorney Timothy Parlatore asked SEAL Petty Officer First Class Dalton Tolbert Friday.
Parlatore went on to read a text message from a group chat between Tolbert and several of Gallagher’s SEAL Team 7 teammates who were deployed to Mosul, Iraq, in May 2017 when Gallagher allegedly stabbed a wounded teenage Islamic State fighter brought back to their camp.
The case has garnered national attention, with President Donald Trump suggesting he may pardon Gallagher if the SEAL is convicted of the war crimes charges.
In the text message sent to members of the “Sewing Circle” WhatsApp thread, Tolbert said he was going to “burn this motherfucking courthouse to the ground.”
In the text messages, Chief Gallagher was referred to by his teammates as “El Diablo,” Spanish for “the devil.”
The text message exchange started on Sept. 7, 2017, after SEAL Team 7 returned to San Diego from deployment to Iraq.
During questioning about the WhatsApp text messages, Parlatore asked Tolbert: “You called me a fucking retarded lawyer, didn’t you?”
Tolbert answered affirmatively.
Parlatore also read off another text message where Tolbert criticized Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh and referred to him as a “faggot.”
But Parlatore didn’t read a text message from the group chat prosecutor Cmdr. Jeff Pietryzk asked Tolbert about during redirect questioning.
In the text message to his teammates, Tolbert said he saw Gallagher shoot someone “who didn’t deserve to die.”
“I shot more warning shots to save civilians from Eddie than I ever did at ISIS. I see an issue with that,” Tolbert said in the text message.
Tolbert’s text message was in reference to his testimony about witnessing Gallagher shoot an unarmed elderly Iraqi man from a sniper building. Tolbert said he fired warning shots at the old man but that the man was hit by Gallagher, who came on the radio and said, “You guys missed him, but I got him,” according to Tolbert.
Tolbert was positioned in the same building as Dylan Dille, who testified Wednesday about the same incident.
Dille said he felt guilty he wasn’t able to get a warning shot in time “so he wouldn’t get killed.”
Friday’s proceedings follow the bombshell testimony by Corey Scott, a medic who helped Gallagher administer aid to the teen IS solider after he was brought to camp.
Scott said Thursday he saw Gallagher stab the combatant, but that he was the one who killed him by plugging the teen’s breathing tube with his thumb.
Following Scott’s testimony, Navy spokesman Brian O’Rourke said prosecutors would not be dropping the murder charge against Gallagher and it’s up for jurors to decide the credibility of witnesses.
The trial is expected to last through the first week of July.